That the facts of the Christian history which are reputed miraculous really did take place, rests, as has been often urged, upon such testimony as would be accepted as sufficient, and much more than sufficient, in all ordinary matters.
And it is very true that both testimony may mislead, and our senses may de- k Essay, pp.
But these results depend upon the character of the testimony, and upon the condition in which our senses are, or the opportunities which they have for taking cognizance of that which comes under their notice. The reality, then, of the Christian miracles, so far as the fact is concerned, rests, as has been said, on the most ample testimony. The enemies of Christianity, — though they refused to 156 THE ARGUMENT FOR MIRACLES. It is true the prevalent belief in magic, and in the power of evil spirits aud their sensible interference in the world, made men more ready to believe reports of supernatural or superhuman occurrences than they might have been otherwise. Still, when every allow- ance has been made on this account, it is inconceiv- able that facts, such as the Christian miracles were afhrmed to be, could have been accepted, as facts, by enemies, who had every opportunity of testing them, and actually did test them in some instances most rigorously, unless they had really taken place. And it is much to be observed that many of them were of a kind respecting which, as far as the fact is concerned, it is incredible that deception could have been practised, or mistake or delusion have occurred. This rests independently on the strongest evidence, our Lord having been seen alive after His death many times and by many different persons, — in one instance " by above five hundred brethren at once," of whom, says St. Paul, referring to the circumstance, "the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
And to all these, must be thesis advice added another great and i 5 8 THE ARGUMENT FOR MIRACLES. For however men may now, while profess- ing to accept Christianity as of divine origin, attempt to eliminate the miraculous element from its system, nothing could be farther from the thoughts of its first preachers. Mistakenly or not, they both believed and taught that miracles, especially that chief mi- racle, the Eesurrection of its Founder, were part and parcel of Christianity. And as they believed and taught, so their converts believed and confessed.
And both preachers and converts, in repeated in- stances, laid down their lives in proof of the sincerity of their convictions. And indeed, to a certain extent, such spun- THE ARGUMENT FOR MIRACLES. For, as one has remarked who will not be suspected of an undue bias in this direction, " The innumerable forgeries of this sort which have been imposed upon mankind in all ages are so far from weakening the credibility of the Jewish and Christian miracles, that they strengthen it. For how could we account for a practice so universal of forging miracles for the support of false religions, if on some occasions they had not actually been wrought for the confir- mation of a true one? Or how is it possible that so many spurious copies should pass upon the world, without some genuine original from whence they were drawn, whose known existence and tried success might give an appearance of probability to the counterfeit 1? Nor, truly, does Professor Powell absolutely and in every instance deny the facts. It is only when no reasonable prdspect of a solution upon his own principles thesis advice offers itself that he denies them.
It is almost needless to add, in reference to any such historical narrative, that it is of course presumed, as pre- liminary to all philosophical speculation, that we have carefully scrutinized the whole question of testimony and documentary au- thenticity, on purely archaeological thesis advice and critical grounds.
Professor Powell is ingenious in the method which he has devised for maintaining his theory.
It is a matter of no little difficulty in dealing with him to know, in the c xse of any particular miracle, the precise ground on which he is entrenching himself. At the same time, however, it is to be observed, that, as regards the Christian miracles, it is a matter of necessity that he who calls them in question must choose the principle on which he proposes to deny them, and adhere to it throughout. They are all so obviously of one and the same cha- racter that they must stand or fall together.
With regard to the theory which would attribute the Christian miracles to natural causes : It is not denied that some few of them, stripped of the circumstances connected with them, might admit of being explained without the supposition of special divine interference. But take those circumstances into account, and the natural at once "lifts itself up into the miraculous. Those who witnessed it, at least, were deeply impressed with the conviction that there was an exercise of other than human agency : " What manner of man," they exclaimed, " is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him p?